Gender Representations of Young Female “Boy’s Love” Fans



Objective. To describe the relations between liking visual representations of male same-sex romance and gender representations of young female fans of BL. Background. Nowadays there is a globally spread interest in manga among teenagers. Manga has a vast diversity of styles, genres, and followers. Nevertheless, some heterosexual girls quite often demonstrate stable interest in the manga sub-genre focusing on homoerotic relationships between young – and frequently androgynous – male characters. This research has addressed an issue whether heterosexual girls’ liking for visual representations of male homosexuality in Boy’s Love (BL) comics relates to their gender representations. Study design. The survey among the members of the Internet Social Media Manga Publics included: description of socio-psychological effects of viewing BL pictures, scaling attitudes towards masculinity ideology, exploration of gender role beliefs and description of femininity concepts. Comparison of the data between BL fans and other members of Manga Publics being acquainted with Boys’ Love, but deliberately neglecting it. Mann–Whitney U test, Fisher F test, and Pearson’s chi-squared test are used. Participants. Russian sample: 140 female respondents 11-45 years old (M=17,95; SD=4,84). Main group consists of 90 respondents 11-45 years old (M=18,88; SD=5,22). Control group consists of 50 respondents 12-27 years old (M=16,79; SD=3,10). Measurements. Questionnaire of socio-demographic characteristics. Author’s scale of socio-psychological effects of visual representations. Masculinity Ideology in Relationships Scale by J.H. Pleck, F.L. Sonenstein, L.C. Ku. Gendered Personality Characteristics (I.S. Klyotsina). Masculinity and Femininity Questionnaire by T.A. Bessonova – psycho-semantic version by N.V. Dvoryanchikov for examining individual femininity constructs. Results. Girls that fond of homoerotic drawn fictions prefer non-normative gendered traits combinations and give specific interpretation of their femininity. BL followers significantly often describe their femininity with traditionally masculine traits. Gender polarization is weak. Gender identity of female BL fans comply with non-orthogonal conceptualization. They believe that core of gender identity in every human being should consist of gender-neutral characteristics. Male emotionality, represented in homoerotic drawings, arrests attention of all respondents. But BL fans are less likely to perceive men in the light of normative (hegemonic) masculinity. Conclusions. Straight girls’ enthusiasm for BL is grounded in the possibility of apprehending their gender non-normativity/non-conformity within a fictional realty, and in BL manga meta-genre capability to display adequately significant aspects of new non-normative gender practices and ensure their social affirmation.

General Information

Keywords: gender representations, gender identity, femininity, gay masculinity, male homoerotic, boy’s love

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Acknowledgements. The author is grateful for assistance in data collection to I.A. Baranishina, MA graduate 2018 in Psychology, SfedU.

Received: 20.03.2022


For citation: Vorontsov D.V. Gender Representations of Young Female “Boy’s Love” Fans. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2022. Vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 124–141. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2022130408. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

D. V. Vorontsov, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Head of Social Psychology Department, Academy of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Southern Federal State University, Rostov-na-Donu, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:


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